top of page

SHORTCUTS IN PHOTOSHOP - Even if you're not yet used to them

I've been using Photoshop for about 20 years now, and I've hesitated for a long time to become well-versed in shortcuts.

After upgrading my Wacom tablet, I more and more started using shortcuts that long-time users have used for years. I wanted to share some of them with you, because they are fast becoming my favorite thing about Adobe Photoshop CC 2021 and beyond. IMPORTANT NOTE: You don't have to have the latest version of Photoshop to use these. Anything CS6 and above will accommodate, and some of the even earlier versions have been using these shortcuts for over 20 years. TIP: If you want to find out what shortcut goes to which toolbar item, highlight the tool and the preview will show you which one goes with that tool. If there are more than one tool, press <SHIFT> key, then whatever the letter command is for that tool to shift through them. I'm a PC user, so if you're a MAC user, substitute <CMD> key for <CTRL> key whenever necessary. (when I type brackets like this: < > that means there's a key I'm indicating.

My very favorite shortcuts in Adobe Photoshop CC 2021: V Move command (that tool at the very top of the toolbar on the left)

B Brush tool

[ make brush tool smaller

] make the brush tool larger

<CTRL> <J> Copy a layer you want to duplicate in your layers palette. This is great for working on an image without messing up the original image, in case something goes wrong.

Speaking of that, I can't leave out <CTRL><Z> to undo a step you've taken that went wonky. It's also a great idea to keep the history palette open by clicking on Window, History. This allows you to go back as many steps as you need to in order to undo something that went horribly wrong. I also use it when I am doing several things in a row that are repetitive. It allows me to go back to a blank canvas or something else I previously created.

C = Crop Tool

<CTRL> <T> = Transform tool

Note: if you're working in the transform tool, just double-click on the image you're working with or click on the checkmark in the top menu of your screen to set your image at the present position. It gets rid of the transform bars around the edges.

<CTRL> <R> Rulers. Open a document, then press these two keys to bring the rulers in at the top and the side. Press them again to get rid of them.

<CTRL> <-> Zoom out of document

<CTRL> <+> Zoom into the document

H Hand tool allows you to move the document around so you can see other parts of it.

Another way to move your document around is to hold down the <space bar>

D This makes your colors return to default. Near the bottom of the toolbar, you have two squares that are normally black (foreground) and white (background). If you've been working with other colors, these might change, so to return to the default set of black and white, just press the D key.

Want to switch them?

X switches the foreground and background colors.

One more really great tip?

When you want to bring an image into Photoshop, especially if you want to add it as a layer to create composite images, use the FILE > Place Embedded command from the top menu,

....and then double-click on the image once you arrange it however you like. This is a form of transform, and it keeps your image from becoming pixelated. It will look like this when you first embed it, then just grab the corners and size it in the best way you want to. You can move it all around and get just the right position. Then double-click on the image, and it will "place" it there. (if you forget and try to do something else, Photoshop will prompt you and ask if you want to place it. Just say ok). You'll see the image like this, and you'll have the opportunity to grab any of the 8 "anchors" and pull it however you like.

Before you start working with the image in your composition, you'll want to "rasterize" it. This takes it from being a smart object that cannot be edited to an image you can do pretty much anything to. Right-click on the image in the layer palette and choose "rasterize layer" to do that.

That's probably the best reason for embedding it instead of using File > Open, but there's one other really important reason why:

If you have a document size you want to drop an image into, it's much easier to embed that image into the document instead of trying to resize it after you use File, Open. You can grab the handles on all four sides and really adjust it the way you want it. This has saved me so much time, I cannot even describe how useful it is.

If you don't quite understand what I'm talking about, see below for Unmesh Dinda's video tutorial about the embed option. The reason the video is about "Smart Objects" is because when you embed an image into a document, you are bringing it in as a smart object. Don't let the name scare you. It's an easy concept. (See the video below)

Important note about that: when you embed an image, you'll want to right-click on it in the Layers Palette and choose "Rasterize" if you want to make any changes to the image after you've embedded it.

Practice a few of these at a time, and you'll soon remember them for everything. They are so handy!

Have a great day.

Here's one of our favorite teachers on Youtube explaining things you'll want to know about Photoshop. His style is very simple to follow, and he is truly so knowledgeable, it blows us away.

Another tip: There's also a really short video here about how to speed up Photoshop if yours is dragging and getting slow. I always wondered why, after a long day of work, it would get really impossible to work with. Everything would get really slow and painful to wait. (plus, my machine is 9 years old, which doesn't help much

4 views0 comments
bottom of page